When the decision was made to blockade Qatar, the three countries behind it, as well as the failed governments that followed them, believed that the Qatari government and people would crumble and surrender, asking for mercy from its besiegers. Therefore, these governments acted arrogantly and presented Qatar with a list of impossible demands lacking the slightest legal or moral basis, driven by the illusion of possessing all the cards of power and strength, allowing it to impose its political choices and restructure the internal political scene in Qatar.
Due to the fact that delusional obsession with superiority prevents people from realising the facts and reality, the shock suffered by the boycotting countries matched the extent of their disappointment and failure to deal with the crisis they created. They also failed to control the effects and repercussions of the crisis, causing them to be the greatest losers in this, while others benefitted.
In this regard, it is possible to identify a number of parties that benefitted in one way or another from the boycott against Qatar, starting of course with the US, that was clearly trying to control the actions of the boycotting countries in order to gain more of their money, milk their resources, and impose its agenda on them. This was no secret, as President Donald Trump was clear when talking to one of the American television stations, announcing that he would not be heading to Riyadh if it weren’t for the promises made by them to award his country more large economic and military contracts, and that is exactly what happened. The man continuously brags about this, considering it an important and influential achievement.
On the other hand, Israel was one of countries that benefitted the most from the boycott against Qatar on various levels, including the ability to accelerate normalisation with it. In addition to this, many things that were considered undeclared taboos became issues competed over. Pens supporting the Saudi government began openly gloating about its closeness and rapprochement with Israel, considering this wise politics warranting praise.
At the same time, the Israelis found a partner to demonise the resistance and Hamas, describing it as a terrorist movement that must be isolated and fought. This was reiterated in many statements by the Saudi ambassador to Algeria and the Saudi foreign minister. The hostility reached the point of Anwar Gargash, UAE state minister for foreign affairs, demanding, in a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that Al Jazeera be shut down because it is anti-Semitic and denies the Holocaust, borrowing terms from Israel to demonise opponents.
The attack on Al Jazeera strangely coincided with the Israeli campaign against Al-Aqsa Mosque, a matter that media outlets linked to the boycotting countries overlooked, as they were too busy swearing at Qatar and Al Jazeera, describing them as a hotbed for terrorism, ignoring the central enemy of the Arabs, Muslims and every free individual.
The third party that benefitted from the siege on Qatar and the campaign against it is Iran. The irony in this is that the three boycotting countries and the governments supporting them has said that one of the reasons for boycotting Qatar is its alleged relationship with Tehran, while Tehran went from being targeted to benefitting. This is after it became an observer of the internal Gulf conflict, allowing it more time to arrange its affairs in its various points of intervention, especially in Syria and Yemen. At the same time, it did not lose any part of its strong economic relationships with the boycotting countries, as the UAE is still the top achiever of its financial and economic interests and it still has relations with Egypt. It even found the opportunity to present itself as a rational party in the region that maintains rational relations with everyone.
Meanwhile, the boycotting countries lost the most due to their hasty measures, especially Saudi Arabia which lost a political ally and commercial market where it had sold its agricultural goods. However, Qatar was able, with amazing speed, to rearrange its relations and look for new trade partners who had aspired to enter the Gulf market. The boycott measures ultimately became useless decisions and failed media campaigns with no impact on the public opinion and of no importance in the grand scheme of things. A large part of the public opinion sided with Qatar given the lack of objective justifications for the boycott.
The failure that accompanied the decisions and measures of the three boycotting countries and their followers became apparent after the passing of the deadline they set to meet their impossible demands. There is no way to understand the decision to boycott Qatar outside of the context of political rivalry and attempts to restrict a successful neighbouring country. How else can we interpret the demand made by the three boycotting countries, as well as Mauritania, Yemen and Egypt, for FIFA to withdraw the World Cup from Qatar?
Apart from the serious verbal accusations, such as supporting terrorism, anti-Semitism and relations with Tehran, reality proves that the real reasons for the boycott do not go beyond bitterness and jealousy felt by the three boycotting countries as a result of Qatar’s successive successes in the fields of economics, media, education and international relations, and this is proven by the events.
How else can we explain the mobilisation of countries that have long considered themselves the most influential and important countries in the region against one country that they failed to blockade or isolate, let alone force it to surrender or abandon the independence of its decisions.
This piece was first published in Arabic in Al-Araby Al-Jadeed on 17 July 2017.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.